Real moms share what gave them a lift during their most challenging days of pregnancy.
Everything in this slideshow
Get Back to Nature
While pregnancy is a joyful time to be celebrated, let's admit it: Having an expanding belly (and all that goes with it!) can sometimes bring on the blahs or the blues. Here's how some real moms picked up their moods.
"When I was pregnant, I planted about 20 sunflowers in front of my apartment. Every day they got taller and taller, and I hoped they'd be in full bloom by the time my baby finally arrived. As my due date drew close, the sunflowers were very tall, but there were no blooms to be seen. When I arrived home from the hospital with my sweet baby boy, one sunflower had burst open. It was very special."
-- Melissa Najd, Marina, California, mother of Woodland, 8 months
"I'm a farmer by trade. When I found out I was pregnant, I ordered a batch of chicks so I could watch them grow as my belly did. It really put a smile on my face through the winter to watch them peck around the yard."
-- Kassandra Burnham, Stanwood, Washington, mother of Mackenzie, 2
"One day I was feeling particularly blue, so my husband and I bought a young tree for our treeless backyard. We planted the tree and pledged to take a picture in front of it every year with our son once he was born. A representation of the life to come that would grow with that tree year after year...it really brightened my spirits that day."
-- Stephanie Ramirez, Knoxville, Tennessee, mother of Sagen, 13 months
"I got sick and tired of sitting at home all the time; I wanted to go out for drinks with my girlfriends. So I decided to join them -- in my own preggers way! I'd go to the restaurant with them, and I'd order my own original drink, a Prego-tini: a fruity nonalcoholic drink in a martini glass. As I sipped it, it really felt fun to pretend it was a normal night with the girls. Of course, I got crazy stares from other people, but it was worth it!"
-- Rachel Pustilnik, Richmond, Virginia, mother of Morgan, 3, and Olivia, 6 months
"The first time I was pregnant, I was only 25, so all my friends were still out partying. My husband and I got very bored. To lighten the mood and create some fun, I put on lingerie from my wedding shower and did my hair and makeup really crazy. My husband and I laughed for an hour at the way I looked all dressed up in fancy lingerie with a huge belly sticking out!"
-- Dina Casaliggi, Staten Island, New York, mother of Christopher, 4, and Alyssa, 2
"During my first pregnancy, I posed for black-and-white photos at the beach. I was in the frothy water -- arms stretched out wide and one leg in the air, smiling and having fun. I now have three of these photos framed on my mantel, next to three similar pictures of my mom when she was at the beach in her 20s. These pictures inspired me and made me feel strong."
-- Kelly Gonzales, Portland, Oregon, mother of Wren, 4, and Caleb, 2
Cook Up Some Fun
"I made fresh lemonade. Squeezing the lemons relieved my stress, and the cold, sweet-tart lemonade cooled me off in the last months of my summer pregnancy."
-- Kimberly Craskey, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, mother of Katie, 7 months
"Several times during my second pregnancy, I made a meal for a friend who had just had a baby. It distracted me from whatever was bothering me, and it did something helpful for someone else! Now we've received a couple of meals since the birth of our son."
-- Sarah Cole, Rockport, Massachusetts, mother of Charlie, 2, and Daniel, 5 months
Dance Up a Storm
"During my first pregnancy, my husband and I took private dancing lessons and learned how to do the hustle! We had such a good time and laughed a lot. It was a great stress reliever."
-- Susan Gold, Gaithersburg, Maryland, mother of Madeline, 2, and Jacqueline, 2 months
"To beat that hot-and-heavy pregnant feeling, I belly danced. I have been belly dancing for almost nine years, and I thought I'd have to stop when I got too far along in my pregnancy. Although I had to slow down somewhat, I felt so good dancing, especially later in my pregnancy. It made me feel light and limber, eased the tightness and pain in my back and hips, and, best of all, celebrated my growing belly! I now teach belly dance, and I hope someday to teach a class that is specifically geared for pregnant women."
-- Camellia Jacobs, Silver Springs, Maryland, mother of Kiyan, 6 months
Write It Down
"I created e-mail addresses for both of my kids before they were born. When I get overwhelmed with momhood, I take a moment to write an e-mail to my kids. When I write to my son, I attach photos, relay stories about how he is growing up, and tell him how I feel about him. While pregnant with my baby girl, I told her about all the things we were doing to get ready for her arrival. I asked my husband and our parents to write to them too. This little exercise reminds me to appreciate every moment I have with two of the most important people in my life."
-- Deborah Tomecek Pleva, Portland, Oregon, mother of Svatik, 2, and Zuzana, 6 months
"When I was pregnant, I was so sick and miserable that I just wanted it to end. I realized I needed to find a sense of humor to help me get through the rough patches and enjoy my growing belly, so I started a newsletter. After each doctor's appointment, I sent humorous anecdotes to our families. After the first few, I found myself really personifying the baby and making light of all the pregnancy quirks. I still write newsletters every few months to friends and family to help them stay in touch with our toddler."
-- Jessica Wallace, Prescott Valley, Arizona, mother of Jaden, 22 months
Visit an Alternate Universe
"I cheered up with a 'pretend I am not pregnant' night: I would go out to dinner with my husband or friends, wear something black and sexy, sit right up at the table so my belly was underneath it (it's hard to do, but sometimes it worked!), and have a fruity drink in a fancy glass and some cooked sushi. It always made me feel better!"
-- Kristina Godfrey, Corona del Mar, California, mother of Dylan, 4, and Tyler, 1
Find an Escape
"When I was pregnant with twins, I felt bloated and as huge as a house. I'd venture to a movie matinee. It gave me a break as well as a dark place to 'hide.'"
-- Lorie Varsames, Erie, Colorado, mother of Jack, 7, and Michael and Nicholas, 4
"Both of my pregnancies spanned cold, dreary winters in New Jersey. When I felt bored and huge with nowhere to go, I'd run out to Starbucks, get my favorite decaf mocha, come home, and snuggle up with a good trashy novel. It took my mind away to another place (usually warmer, tropical, and exotic) and made me imagine I could be that fit, gorgeous heroine again!"
-- Marybeth Vogt, Queen Creek, Arizona, mother of Morgan, 4, and Paige, 3
"Pregnant with my third child, I would go to the playground with my 2-year-old son. Running -- or wobbling -- around the playground and watching my son's eyes light up while he watched his very pregnant mom slide down the 'big' slide was a blast. Gliding across the monkey bars was tricky, but it made him laugh and made me chuckle."
-- Tana Ryan, Northglenn, Colorado, mother of McKenzie, 7, Morgan, 4, and Mason, 1
"When I was six months pregnant with my daughter, my son and I were very sick. To pass the time and have some fun, we created creatures with play dough. We also painted with watercolors. These cheap and simple activities helped me to release my mind and be creative!"
-- Lori Harrison, Aliso Viejo, California, mother of Tyler, 3, and Sienna, 11 months
"I went through all the kids' books my parents saved in their attic. Reading them brought back so many memories that made me laugh! I kept my favorites to pass on to my son."
-- Renita Brady, Delran, New Jersey, mother of Hayes, 8 months
Sing a Song
"If I was bored or feeling a little blue when I was pregnant with my first son, I got nostalgic for things from my childhood. This eventually led me to go online and look up old songs we sang as kids. I downloaded a bunch of kids' songs and made CDs. My first son is now 3, so the CDs have been well worn, but when we listened to one of these collections, I was reminded not only of my childhood, but of my first pregnancy as well."
-- Corie Tyler, Monterey, California, mother of Jordan, 3, and Benjamin, 2
"While stuck in rush-hour traffic on my way to and from work, I'd make up songs about the baby and sing them to my belly. Often I would receive a kick in response!"
-- Jodi Mallory, Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, mother of Hayden, 1
"With my first pregnancy, I was on 'house arrest' due to preterm labor. As my third trimester began, I became very restless and painted almost every room in the house. Each room was more colorful than the last. Needless to say, we spent the next two years repainting. The toughest room to repaint was Pawnee Red. It took three coats of primer to cover up that one!"
-Colleen Nettekoven, Aliso Viejo, CA, mother of Aidan, 6, Colin, 4, and Shannon, 2
"I found an old sewing machine and taught myself how to make cute burp cloths with fun fabrics. It was easy to do, and I felt like a hip mom with designer burp cloths -- until, of course, the spit-up was still all down the back of my shirt!"
-- Andrea Streight, Rocklin, California, mother of Tyler, 3, and Kailey, 6 months
"When I was seven months pregnant and felt like my bulge was huge, I used henna to draw a large sun on my stomach with huge flames coming out from my belly button!"
-- Melisa Stoner, Mission Viejo, California, mother of Dylan, 8, and Tyler, 6
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the May 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.
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